Monday, January 15, 2007

Candidate Questionnaire - Darren Peets

1) Why BoG?

I never considered other positions. Board matches my interests, the pay's not an issue, the problems I want to fix are generally higher than the AMS (most are UBC-level) and not normally academic, and I don't have the time to take on an AMS (or GSS) exec position. The question is "why run (as Darren, not the Hydrant)?" But you didn't ask that...

2) What two experiences (jobs, positions, volunteer, etc.) have you had that gave you the skills you feel necessary for representing students on BoG?

University Town Committee: GSS rep from July 2004. Chaired by Dennis Pavlich (VP External of UBC), a venue to both expose flaws (i.e. criticize) and look for solutions or offer
ideas. I'm slowly learning tact, recognizing themes that other people have raised that could use reinforcement.

AMS Council: Board-level responsibility for a multimillion-dollar operation. Knowing when to ask questions and what to ask, knowing what to look for, trying to think of every possibly angle, every potential loophole, every consequence. Still working on putting strong concluding statements at the end of comments rather than let them tail off in uncertainty.

3) What would you identify as the area(s) on which you would focus your attention, at Board? Why?

Campus development/governance, because of my experience in the area and the myriad problems and/or misplaced priorities. And because the governance review, VCP process and U Blvd pricetag escalation (or is that augmentation?) will combine to offer a singular opportunity for change.

I'd also like to push for more daycare spaces and more student housing (particularly where we have gaps, e.g. couples, housing with pets). Family housing is particularly important because its unavailability can easily lead to dropouts, and because most of it's in pretty rough shape and is unreasonably low-density.

4) What are your feelings on tuition, and tuition allocation/hikes and financial aid?

I'd like it to be far lower, for affordability and recruitment reasons, but it can't be zero or we get career students trying to avoid the Real World. Realistically, though, it's going up 2% per year, and that will be completely swallowed up (and then some) by inflation. I'd feel a heck of a
lot better about this if the province were increasing its contributions to keep our real budget from shrinking. Financial aid is something that needs to be watched very closely. We always need more of it, but there isn't necessarily money for it. "Unmet need" needs to be defined a bit tighter, and needs to be met, not met-with-a-deductible as has been the case in the past.

5) If you could change one thing about campus development, what would it be any why?

*One* thing? Really? Um, when's a good time for a chat over beer?

[Editor's note: we had a beer.]

6) The Board is composed of CEOs, Presidents, and people with decades of experience. How are you going to tell them they're wrong?

I'm not going to tell them they're wrong. I'm going to provide them with more information than they had, perspectives and insight that may not have occurred to them, and the student point(s) of view. These people generally didn't get where they are by making their minds up early and being stubborn in the face of new evidence. If there's a side to the story that they've been missing, they'll generally adapt to it. If they see one flaw they hadn't expected, they may pay more attention and find more of them. They value the student viewpoint far more than students think, provided it can be enunciated in such a way that they don't get a knee-jerk reaction against it.

7) Describe your ideal relationship with the UBC-O student rep

Ideally, we'd be in constant communication, would support each other, would always be on the same page, and would provide a united front (we'd have different ways of saying the same thing, and pushing for the same results). Ideally. I'll try, but there may be irreconcilable CFS/CASA differences on some issues. E.g. the current CFS tuition demand is for an immediate 10%
reduction, which is purely arbitrary and would require provincial support or gutting of programs.